Most people know a little something about Navy SEAL training from movies or the Discovery Channel — the relentless mental and physical rigor and the infamous Hell Week, which entails five and a half days without sleep … running, crawling, carrying boats and logs overhead, doing obstacle courses and water races with and without boats, competing in some form or another.
The guys who make it through BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL training) do so because we keep our eye on the goal — the goal of becoming a SEAL, of serving our country as part of an elite team. You have to know that this misery, this hunger, this bone-deep pain won’t last forever. You tell yourself that if you can make it to the next meal, you’ll be okay. Then through the next eight-hour miserable training to the next meal. Whatever you do, whatever you’re going through, if you can break it all down into digestible chunks, you’ll make it … and that lesson, I have found, applies in life, too.
In June 2005, there was a reconnaissance mission that ended very badly where several SEALs — several of my very close buddies — were killed in a firefight in the hills of Afghanistan. All that I saw, all that I felt before, during, and long after that mission no doubt played a pivotal role in my developing PTSD.
Read Jon’s essay about that day and its life-long repercussions here.
In many ways telling myself that I was a SEAL — man up! muscle up! — helped me move on with the next mission, and the next, and continue to do my job in special ops. But that mentality — along with the medications for depression and anxiety that I was prescribed — also blocked my path to begin healing. Numbing your pain, anxiety, and stress — and your sense of fulfillment and joy, as it turns out — from medications and denial only works for so long before those suppressed emotions come full circle to bite you in the butt.
A friend always says that the “only way out is through.” I wish I had understood that sooner. If I had allowed myself to face my emotions, to go through the pain, the heartache, the sadness, the horror instead of “manning up,” I probably would have started my healing process sooner and more effectively. The SEAL mentality can definitely save you, but in other ways it can hinder your growth and healing as a human being.
It took a while, years full of trials and errors, fits and starts, but it was discovering meditation that really saved me. Like the step-by-step approach in BUD/S, sitting down for five, 10, 30 minutes a day to meditate can provide a profound path and practice toward healing.
You don’t need anything … just yourself, a little pocket of quiet, and an open mind. Why not give it a try?
Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.
Anonymous replied on Permalink
Great post. Thank you!